Three years ago, our first daughter was born via c-section. It wasn’t an “emergency” by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly wasn’t planned- it was just sort of how the cards were played. We found out that our daughter was breech at nearly the exact same moment as my body decided to get this whole labor thing up and running, so with no other real options in place, a c-section it was.
And in all honesty, I didn’t hate it. I never felt ashamed or embarrassed. I never felt like somehow I was not “mother” enough because I didn’t push a full-term baby out the chute. I didn’t get any snide comments about “taking the easy way out,” and there wasn’t ever even a HINT of feeling like somehow my body had messed up because I wasn’t able to deliver our baby “naturally” (whatever that means anyway…)
So, when it came time to choose how this second baby would be born, it was my absolute gut instinct to have a repeat c-section. I chose that option without hesitation, and for no REAL reason other than it being the only option I already KNEW. The doctor gave us the option of a VBAC, stating that there was a 1% chance of uterine rupture which could be potentially fatal to the baby, and harmful to the mama, but the odds of that were practically nonexistent. And maybe it was hearing about that 1% chance that swayed my decision, but more than anything, I think it was just knowing what we were up against.
And I had NO problem whatsoever with it. It was what I knew! It was what I was comfortable with! WHy would I be stressed or feel guilty about the way my baby was brought into this world? And the truth is, I wasn’t…
Until all of the sudden I was. And to be fair- I was never guilted into these feelings by any other mama. I was never told I was “lucky,” or that I was “too posh to push.” No one ever made me feel like I was being lazy in the grand scheme of things.
But all of the sudden, about 2 weeks out from our due date, the massive guilt started to set in.
You’re not even going to TRY to do this the ‘right’ way?
You’ll never experience a ‘real’ birth.
You can’t even pretend like you know how hard childbirth is.
You’re getting out of all of the hard parts.
If there was anything shameful or totally bogus to be said about having a c-section, I had it playing on repeat in my own mind. Somehow I’d become my own toughest critic, and the stories I started telling myself about how I just wasn’t measuring up became all I could think about when it came down to the birth of our new baby.
But the truth is- birth is birth.
And at the end of it, there is a baby. Whether delivered vaginally, with an epidural, in a tub, at home, stuck in traffic on the freeway, or yes- even in an operating room. Birth is still birth (although I think I’ll pass on the roadside option, if we’re being totally honest here).
I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in being the martyr of our own stories that we forget that there are no awards or medals handed out in the labor and delivery ward for the moms who suffered without intervention the most. There are no plaques awarded for not needing to have a c-section. Simply put, if we WANT the epidural, we should get it! No shame, no guilt, no feeling like we just couldn’t hack it. If we WANT a repeat c-section, then that’s what we should do. No feeling like “less” or “inferior” for choosing surgical intervention.
Because at the end of the day, we are still mothers no matter HOW our babies entered this world. Is the mother down the hall who chose the unmediated tub birth a better mother to her screaming newborn at 3am than the mama who gave birth via c-section? No. Does the mama who chose the unassisted home birth love her baby MORE than the mama who clearly stated that an epidural needed to happen when things really started to get going? Not even a little.
The path in which our babies came into the world is not the measure of our love for our children. It doesn’t make us any better or worse. It doesn’t make us lazy, or weak. It doesn’t mean we couldn’t handle it. It means we made the choice that worked BEST for us and for our families.
And we should NEVER have to justify those choices or decisions to anyone.